Kansas City Chiefs: The 5 Best Free Agent Signings in Franchise History
As the 2011 season approaches, the Kansas City Chiefs will continue to look for the missing pieces to improve on their 2010 campaign. Many of the weak spots have been filled via the draft, bringing in an influx of young talent that will continue to build on this Chiefs squad.
Despite this, the Chiefs are left with several gaps. Scott Pioli and the Chiefs front office will be looking toward the pool of free agents to provide this team with some needed talent and leadership.
If Pioli does what he would like, he will be able to grab a player or two that will mirror some of these past successes.
Nick Lowery, K
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Nick Lowery is a feel good story suitable for an inspirational sports film. After being cut 11 times in his career, Lowery landed with the Chiefs after they released popular kicker Jan Stenerud.
Lowery proceeded to prove the eight teams that cut him wrong, becoming a seven-time All-Pro. He retired with the NFL records for most career field goals, best PAT percentage, and most accurate kicker in NFL history, amongst others.
Kansas City recognized his accomplishments in 2009, inducting Lowery into the Chiefs’ Hall of Fame.
Priest Holmes, RB
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After receiving a Super Bowl ring with the Baltimore Ravens, Priest Holmes found himself in the free agency pool. With several teams not showing interest, the Chiefs signed Holmes, getting him at a cheap rate.
What they ended up with was one of the best free agent bargains of all-time.
Though Holmes had rushed for over a thousand yards earlier in his career, 2001 set up a terrific run of three seasons unheard of before in Chiefs history. After seven seasons with Kansas City, Holmes held the team records for career rushing yards, rushing attempts, and total touchdowns.
Figure in that he was injured more often than not from 2004 until he officially retired in 2007, and those feats are even more impressive.
Emmitt Thomas, CB
Many Hall of Fame careers do not start out exactly how the player would have liked. For Emmitt Thomas, it did not even start out with him being drafted.
Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Bishop College, Emmitt Thomas began his Hall of Fame career for the Chiefs in 1966. By the time he retired in 1978, Thomas had accumulated a team record 58 career interceptions, five Pro Bowl selections, and a Super Bowl ring.
Thomas has gone on to serve as a coach on eight different NFL teams, participating in two more Super Bowls. Currently, Thomas is back where he belongs, serving as the secondary coach for the Chiefs.
Len Dawson, QB
Len Dawson was drafted in the first round of the 1957 draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite this, Dawson was never able to make an impact for the Steelers, and was traded to the Browns in 1959.
After being released two seasons later, Dallas Texans’ coach Hank Stram offered Dawson a contract, and he followed the team to Kansas City in 1963.
After only throwing two touchdowns in his first five seasons, Dawson found his place in Stram’s offense, averaging 26 touchdowns the next six seasons. Dawson served as the leader of the 1969 Super Bowl champions, coming back from a knee injury to lead Kansas City past the Vikings for their first and only Super Bowl win.
Marcus Allen, RB
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When the Kansas City Chiefs signed Marcus Allen, the league assumed that the former NFL MVP was washed up. He had left Los Angeles on a bad note, feuding with owner Al Davis.
Allen used 1993 to prove the naysayers wrong, scoring 12 touchdowns and being named comeback player of the year.
While Allen was effective on the field for the Chiefs, the leadership he provided was even more important. During Allen’s tenure, the Chiefs were the most successful team in the NFL. 1993 saw Allen and quarterback Joe Montana lead the Chiefs to the AFC Championship game.
This leadership ushered in a new era for the Chiefs, and they became one of the more successful teams in the 1990’s.